The move by Y S Jaganmohan Reddy to accuse the Congress-Telugu Desam of conspiring to arrest him and then foment trouble in Andhra Pradesh and use that as a pretext to postpone the byelections scheduled for June 12, is clever political strategy. What he has done is to create a win-win situation for himself because if he is indeed arrested, he can say, I told you so and if he is not, he gains any way. He is succeeding in creating public opinion that he is number one and that his two political rivals are ganging up against him.
There is already a lot of talk in Andhra Pradesh about whether he will be arrested before or on May 28, the day he is scheduled to appear before the CBI court. The Congress government, in my opinion, messed up by freezing the accounts of Jagan’s media group. It was a futile exercise, one that only gave him oxygen of publicity. And when he linked it to the jobs of 20000 employees (directly and indirectly employed by the group), even neutral people and journalists ended up supporting him. It was in any case, a legally untenable act.
What impact will the process of investigation have on the bypolls due on June 12 to one Lok Sabha and 18 assembly constituencies? Little. That’s because these allegations that have been levelled by the CBI are not new and people are aware of them. A political vacuum exists in Andhra Pradesh today with the ruling Congress facing anti-incumbency and the TDP unable to improve its image and credibility. Independent of what the CBI and the courts say, support for Jagan is based on the emotional attachment that arises out of a sympathy for YSR and the welfare agenda he pursued as chief minister.
One may ask why is it that the allegations of corruption against Jagan do not make him a political outcast. At the end of the day, people are also selfish. They will tell you that when the rich man is not bothered about corruption, why should the poor man bother. The cynicism that everyone is corrupt has crept in, coupled with the realisation that the alternate political culture presented by other political parties is not radically different in any way.